Thursday, May 29, 2008

Soldier of Love

That's an interesting little online D&D-lite game. Technically a MMORPG, very low-tech and free. If you join and play using my link (just cut and paste into your browser), I get bonuses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Wanna Be Your Man

On MSN today, there was an article taken from Esquire Magazine listing and explaining "75 Skills Every Man Should Know". I read it to see how I measured up. I'll list the 75 steps here, and add my own two pennies where needed - and who knows, maybe add a few more!

(the steps in boldface, my thoughts in normal print)

A Man Should Be Able To:

1. Give advice that matters in one sentence. I like this first rule of thumb! Let me add to it "Understand that some are prone to ignore said advice."
2. Tell if someone is lying. I'm an actor - lying is my business. What I'll add is "Know when to call out that lie, and when to let it slide."
3. Take a photo. I can take a photo - it's these damn digital cameras I can't figure out!
4. Score a baseball game. Every time a person crosses home plate, the score goes up by one. Is it more complicated than that?
5. Name a book that matters. "To Kill A Mockingbird" - one of my favorites!
6. Know at least one musical group as well as is possible. My love of the Beatles is legend!
7. Cook meat somewhere other than the grill. Technically, the Foreman Grill is a griddle. I can make a foil pack too!
8. Not monopolize the conversation. I honestly don't talk enough in a conversation.
9. Write a letter. Add the word "effective", and it's a better point.
10. Buy a suit. I'm going to do just that in a couple of weeks, so I don't look like a slob on TV.
11. Swim three different strokes. I got the merit badge, as well as lifeguard certification - crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke...
12. Show respect without being a suck-up. This isn't difficult, and actually is aided by #8.
13. Throw a punch. I've never gotten into a fight in my adult life, so I don't know if I truly can. I think I'm a better man for not putting myself in these situations.
14. Chop down a tree. Worked with a tree service for a year - never cut down a tree myself, but I know how from watching.
15. Calculate square footage. I do it all the time at work, determining how big the ad space is - length times width.
16. Tie a bow tie. Ummm, no. A standard business tie (a faux Windsor) I think is more important.
17. Make one drink, in large batches, very well. Half whiskey, half Coke - done!
18. Speak a foreign language. Does Klingon count?
19. Approach a woman out of his league. Didn't need to - they approached me! (Hi, dear!)
20. Sew a button. I can, but never do. If the button popped off, the clothes don't fit anymore!
21. Argue with a European without getting xenophobic or insulting soccer. WTF? Like I have need to argue with Europeans on any kind of regular basis! Listen to what they have to say first - they may have a good point!
22. Give a woman an orgasm so that he doesn't have to ask after it. Any comments I make may make a regular reader of my blog and/or me blush...
23. Be loyal. One of the 12 Scouting laws that I still follow to this day.
24. Know his poison, without standing there, pondering like a dope. Shot of Patron, chilled.
25. Drive an eightpenny nail into a treated two-by-four without thinking about it. I have the coordination of a drunk monkey, so I AM going to think about it.
26. Cast a fishing rod without shrieking or sighing or otherwise admitting defeat. No problem.
27. Play gin with an old guy. How about rummy instead?
28. Play go fish with a kid. I don't have any sixes, kid. Tough shit!
29. Understand quantum physics well enough that he can accept that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped. Isn't that more like "theoretical physics"?
30. Feign interest. I'm sorry, did you say something?
31. Make a bed. I'll go you one better - I can make a waterbed! Now THAT'S a challenge!
32. Describe a glass of wine in one sentence without using the terms nutty, fruity, oaky, finish, or kick. I guess "makes me barfy" isn't technically a sentence...
33. Hit a jump shot in pool. I'm lucky to hit the cueball!
34. Dress a wound. Yep, got that merit badge too. Most people forget to elevate the wound.
35. Jump-start a car (without any drama). Change a flat tire (safely). Change the oil (once). Two out of three ain't bad - oil I leave to the experts.
36. Make three different bets at a craps table. I don't like games of chance when betting real money. I'd rather play games I have a modicum of control over, like Blackjack or Texas Hold'em.
37. Shuffle a deck of cards. I finally learned how to do so about five years ago.
38. Tell a joke. I prefer the story jokes where you never see the punchline coming.
39. Know when to split his cards in blackjack. Aces and Eights always, never on Faces. The rest of them, you have to consider what the dealer is showing.
40. Speak to an eight-year-old so he will hear. I don't whip out the "authority voice" very often, but I'm decent with kids.
41. Speak to a waiter so he will hear. I'm a mumbler, so I've gotta work on this.
42. Talk to a dog so it will hear. That's a GOOD boy...
43. Install: a disposal, an electronic thermostat, or a lighting fixture without asking for help. I've installed two electronic thermostats in the last two years, I'll be installing a ceiling fan/light soon, but how many disposals NEED to be installed?
44. Ask for help. Last resort.
45. Break another man's grip on his wrist. Kick him in the nads, hard!
46. Tell a woman's dress size. Not touching that one, ever! That's akin to guessing her weight or age.
47. Recite one poem from memory. Oh pointy bird; oh pointy pointy; Annoint my head; Annointy, nointy.
48. Remove a stain. Wash it - duh!
49. Say no. Only when I need to make a point.
50. Fry an egg sunny-side up. RedFaery prefers scrambled, me over hard.
51. Build a campfire. Again, I'm an Eagle Scout. I can build many varieties of campfires!
52. Step into a job no one wants to do. I'm a middle manager; what do YOU think?
53. Sometimes, kick some ass. Last resort.
54. Break up a fight. Hose.
55. Point to the north at any time. I pointed north out to my dad just yesterday.
56. Create a play-list in which ten seemingly random songs provide a secret message to one person. WTF? How about just creating a playlist of good music instead?
57. Explain what a light-year is. How far light travels in a year, Mr. Spock.
58. Avoid boredom. Blog!
59. Write a thank-you note. Dear you, Thanks, signed Me
60. Be brand loyal to at least one product. Crest toothpaste has never let me down.
61. Cook bacon. Fried is better
62. Hold a baby. Scruff of neck.
63. Deliver a eulogy. Fortunately I've never had the opportunity.
64. Know that Christopher Columbus was a son of a bitch. Ok, wow. I know what the author was getting at, but is this REALLY in the top 75?
65-67. Throw a baseball over-hand with some snap. Throw a football with a tight spiral. Shoot a 12-foot jump shot reliably. The reason I got into theatre is because I suck at sports. That's never changed, nor do I expect it to with practice.
68. Find his way out of the woods if lost. Pay attention to everything - it's not hard.
69. Tie a knot. Square, bowline, sheepshank - hello, Eagle Scout here!
70. Shake hands. More guys need to remember that it's not a visegrip contest.
71. Iron a shirt. It's harder than it looks, but not difficult.
72. Stock an emergency bag for the car. I really ought to do this...
73. Caress a woman's neck. I practice daily. :)
74. Know some birds. Cardinal, robin, sparrow, etc. Helps when your mom is into this stuff.
75. Negotiate a better price. My last car purchase went very well, I think! Just gotta do your homework before stumbling in.

So according to this list, I have a little homework to do (can't or won't do 16 items on it). I think there are a couple more that could be added.

76. Learn how to sing at least one song really well. My singing is what got RedFaery's attention initially, so I consider it a useful skill.
77. Learn how to make your point known without being overbearing about it. That's how Red and I rarely fight.
78. Make time for family. Still learning how to do this myself, but I consider it much more important than #64 above!
79. A buffet is NOT a challenge!
80. Pretend everything you say and do is being watched by everyone important to you, and act accordingly. Because it is!

Maybe you can find a gem or two on this list. At the very least, I hope it was entertaining!

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 20

The sickness I had earlier this week really made me apathetic to watching my weight. When you're feeling like crap, ordering pizza for delivery so you don't have to go anywhere is one of life's simple joys. Needless to say, I "fed the cold" a lot.

We finally got to the gym for the first time. RedFaery lasted longer than either one of us thought she would - about 20 minutes total between the elipital and the treadmill. I spent 30 minutes on the eliptical myself, surprised than the first 15 minutes were pretty effortless. Half of the machines at Fitness 19 have flatscreen TVs on them, and you just need to bring headphones to plug in. We'll probably go again tonight - if Red's feeling poorly after having blood drawn today and going to an interview, I'll probably go by myself.

Memorial Day we throw kabobs on the grill and had a ton of goulash. This time I ate like crazy simply because the food turned out so tasty! Fortunately, most of it was healthy, so even in massive quantities it wasn't too bad to my system (at least that's what I keep telling myself, HA!). The leftover uncooked meat and vegies I stir-fryed and refrigerated - should make for a good series of snacks throughout the week.

As expected, I gained a lot over this week. I'm happy to say that, while my weight did go all the way back up to 221 lbs at one point, it was only 216 lbs this morning. Considering how this week went, I'm considering myself pretty lucky!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-18 Loss: 23 lbs.
Week 19 GAIN: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 216 lbs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Take Good Care of My Baby

I hate being sick. Not that I know anyone that enjoys it, but I just thought that was important to say.

It started over the weekend - the painful scratchy throat that kept me up at night, the coughing, and eventually the stuffy head and fatigue. I gutted through Monday because there were sales managers coming in for training, but I was plenty spent by that night. Tuesday morning, the "hit by a Mack truck" feeling was there, so I called in sick.

After laying around with an equally sick RedFaery most of the morning, we went to Wal-Mart for drugs and an oil change. Now that we have a new couch, it was time for new curtains in the front room to brighten it up a bit. When we got home, I felt a little stronger, so decided to hang them as well.

While the undercurtains, filled with cat hair, were getting washed, I hung the rods and the new draperies. This required a fun combination of furniture moving, stepstool climbing, and hole drilling. Fortunately, it looked pretty good when completed. And all the time I'm thinking, "Maybe I could have gone into work today - I'm holding up ok!"

Then the crash. Thank God the couch is new - the old couch was hard enough to get out of due to the springs being sprung; I can't imagine trying to do the same with no energy at all!

Today the cough is still there, being kept at bay with enough water to drown fish. There's a little more energy, so I'm pretty sure I'm not contageous anymore. Which is good, as I'm certain I actually picked up the bug at work.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Yellow Submarine

(I'll freely admit I'm simply posting this so I had a reason to use "Yellow Submarine" as the blog title. I'm giggling like a schoolgirl over it!)

Me: Give me a footlong Philly Cheesesteak sub on honey oat and wheat bread.
Sandwich Artist: Do you want cheese on that?


What I should have said:
What part of "cheesesteak" do you not understand? Of course I want cheese on my cheesesteak, otherwise it's a steak sandwich, you twit! Or are you taking the job title "Sandwich 'Artist'" a little too literally and implementing some creative expression with your role? I seriously doubt that's the case from the look of you. Look, I know you've got a shitty job and your brain is probably on autopilot, but you need to inject a little common sense into your mundane tasks so that your mind doesn't get permanently stuck in 1st gear. Now make it pepperjack, and make it snappy!

What I actually said:
Yes, please.


The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 19

Probably the biggest news of the week is that RedFaery and I finally got a new gym membership. About 5 miles from my work is a new Fitness 19 workout center. This is good, because we can go together some mornings to work out, then she can drop me off at work and head home/out on chores, then pick me up at the end of the day. Until she gets a new job lined up anyway - otherwise we can go after work during the week. The hours are very accomodating to our needs.

It's not a huge gym like Gold's, but it has everything you need (except shower facilities sadly). And with their grand opening special, I paid about $150 up front, and we only pay $12 each monthly! That's cheaper than my City of Heroes membership! The other awesome thing is that we're not locked into a contract - it's a pay-as-you-go deal. If we ever want to quit, we just give them 30 days notice to stop the auto-withdrawl.

Otherwise quite an unremarkable week in my weightloss - I went up, I came back down, and ultimately no change. The one thing I've been lacking for a while now is steady exercise, so maybe I can start with the forward movement again soon!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-18 Loss: 23 lbs.
Week 19 Loss: 0 lbs.
Current Weight: 214 lbs.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You've Got to Hide Your Love Away

Regular readers may remember my excitement about the chance to pay Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" at the little local Corydon theatre I've done many shows at before moving to Louisville. Irregular readers may want to look for that entry about two months back...

Monday was the auditions. I hurried home and picked up RedFaery. I warned her to eat, cause I figured we'd be there for an hour and a half, plus I had her bring me a peanut butter sandwich to keep my hunger at bay. We'd planned on hitting one of our favorite little restaurants afterward.

We got there plenty early, and I filled out the necessary forms, plus attached my resume (almost like I'm a professional, huh?). RedFaery pointed out that I still had my weight listed at 240 lbs, so I happily scratched it out and wrote "215" instead.

Now a typical audition for a musical at Hayswood Theatre involves getting the littlest children to do their singing and reading done first, so they can get home in time for bed. Then the adults sing their prepared songs, then do cold readings. Simple, no?

They started out with the kids doing their thing. Lots of kids, so this took a while. Then they started having some of the adults sing. Hmm, ok.

They suddenly stopped with the adults (before getting to me) and had everyone learn a couple of the songs to sing as a group. Ummm, what? Why? What can be learned about the people auditioning by doing that? Who's loudest?

Next, the choreographer works with the little kids on dance steps. As expected, that was like herding cats. Fortunately that didn't take too long, and the kids were dismissed.

We finally get back to the prepared songs, and I finally get to sing. Since Tevye's a baritone role, I chose a lower range song I did at a high school singing contest, "When I Have Sung My Songs". Well received by the crowd and directors, and I'm happy with how I did. They also had me sing the first verse of "If I Were a Rich Man". The directors weren't paying very close attention, and I got to sing more of the song than the others auditioning for Tevye - including the part were he sings the quacking and honking of the ducks and geese. When they heard the laughter from the onlookers, they realized they'd let me go long and said, "That's good, thanks." SCORE!

Next was more group singing, this time older men and older women doing "Sunrise, Sunset". I'm confused as hell.

Now we get to learn choreography. I'm guessing they wanted to see how how we pick up on it - which is great if the choreographer actually takes more than a moment to watch instead of instruct. I'm not the best dancer, but I held my own.

As I return to my seat, RedFaery wonders to me how much longer. It's only then do I find out we've been there two hours, and we haven't even gotten to the reading yet! All the disorganization between two directors, a music director and a choreographer fighting to get their time in running the audition was causing the process to drag on.

In what I'm sure was a pure "diva moment", I decided I was done. RedFaery is always fine with being used as an excuse, so I pulled the director aside and said I needed to get some food in her. She wanted to know if I could come back tomorrow, and I said basically, "No, but you know what I can do on stage, right?" She understood, and off we went. Maybe I shot myself in the foot - but I honestly didn't (and don't) care.

As expected, the restaurant was closed, so we went to a favorite fast food place instead. RedFaery had never been to an audition at Hayswood, and she asked, "Is that how it normally is?" That touched off an hour-long rant of mine about how that was a disorganized mess, and that if rehearsals were run like the audition, maybe it wouldn't be in my best interest to NOT be in this show. Considering how much I want to play Tevye, that's something coming from me!

Today, I get the call from the main director on my voice mail. Despite knowing I was auditioning only for Tevye, they offered me Mordcha in Innkeeper. It's an awesome role, but when you combine my Monday night experience with the long drive, and my selfish desire to play the role I've been pining after for 2/3 of my life, it was an easy decision. And as many of my acting friends have already told me, I've got a shot at that role for the next 20-30 years. I'm a patient man.

Plus, it doesn't hurt to find out that the improv project I've been working on is now on the front burner, and will be televised on a local station. But that's another, future blog entry...

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 18

Hello, my name is Ray, and I'm a food addict.

(Hello Ray!)

I had a moment of realization this weekend that drove it home very harshly. RedFaery and I ate at Applebee's on the drive to her mother's home in Michigan on Saturday. I ordered the Trio meal they've got now, and got boneless buffalo wings, mini cheeseburgers and mini chicken sandwiches. I even loaded the sandwiches with lettuce and tomato for more healthy crap.

I ate both the little burgers, one of the little chicken sandwiches, and 2/3 of the wings, and I was full. In fact, I'd probably eaten slightly more than I needed. My stomach was saying "No mas!" (I don't know why it was speaking Spanish - I didn't ask).

But I wanted to keep eating. I stared at the leftover food. I pushed it away and covered it with a napkin, and my hand trembled. When the waiter came by and asked if we wanted a box, RedFaery answered "No" for me. He took the plate and I broke out into a sweat. I lost the opportunity to continue cramming the lovely taste of vinegar and ranch dressing into my mouth, and I dwelled on that for an hour afterward. As I type this, I'm salavating.

I've had my ups and downs with my weight since starting this in January, and it's never remotely bothered me. I've always realized that it was going to come in it's own time, so long as more times than not I took the intelligent route when it came to eating choices. However, this was the first time I'd gotten truely MAD and EMBARASSED at myself. I don't like it, not one bit.

I've had a couple of days to think about it, and I've gotten over it for the most part. I did the right thing and I'm proud of that. I was caught unaware, and shouldn't be again. Next time, when that addiction rears it's ugly head, I now have a reference point to be prepared for how I'm going to feel about it, and I'll take it more in stride. If there's one thing I value more than tasty food, it's my composure and dignity.

With all that said, I happily hit a new low this Friday with 212 lbs! And despite the lavish meals RedFaery's family made over the weekend (fresh fried bass Saturday night, and jerk chicken Sunday - all very good!), I only gained 2 of those pounds back as of this morning. I think that's a fair trade.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-17 Loss: 21 lbs.
Week 18 Loss: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 214 lbs.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mr. Moonlight

For those that don't want to click, it's basically a report stating that NASA wants to pay $5,000 per month to have people stay in bed in their controlled environment in Houston for 90 days. Your feet will be slightly elevated, and you can only sleep for eight of the hours of the day. The rest of time, you'll basically be lying there unless they get you up to run a test on you.

I would SO do that! I'm very skilled at doing nothing!

However, I think my current job would seriously object to me not coming in for three months. Plus I'm certain that I won't pass the physical - you've got to meet Air Force standards, and I seriously doubt I even meet UPS standards. Then there's whole "living in Kentucky and not Texas" thing.

Finally, I think RedFaery would kill me. Or insist on a queen-size matress and join me. I honestly don't know...

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 17

I noticed last week that I only seem to gain on the weekends. I tried to take that into consideration - I concentrated on eating smarter, plus added a couple of simple workouts and stayed active.

The result - I still gained, just not as much.

It was under control as of Sunday morning, as usual. I'm beginning to worry that my occaisional Japanese hibatchi is a contributing factor. More likely the culprit is not getting much sleep Sunday night - I always have a problem with that. Sadly, I don't think that's going to change much.

However, as long as at the end of it all I've still dropped, even slightly like this week, I'm not going to worry too much.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-16 Loss: 20 lbs.
Week 16 Loss: 1 lb.
Current Weight: 216 lbs.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I Don't Want to Spoil the Party

This is our first Derby weekend living in Louisville. While the festivities officially started three weeks ago with Thunder Over Louisville, and over fifty other events around town leading up to a two-minute horse race, the only one I had any concern over are the races themselves, since we live about a mile or so from Churchill Downs. What will this day bring? Here is my diary of the weekend:

Friday morning - As I leave for work at 10am, the cars are streaming towards the track (Friday is the Kentucky Oaks - just as big of a party day). Fortunately I am going the opposite direction, so they aren't slowing me down. The local Catholic church has people dancing around with signs promising "$3, parking, concessions, and shuttle to the track". Probably easier money than bingo, so I don't blame them.

Friday evening - The drive home (about 9:30pm) is also uneventful. All the little hole-in-the-wall bars along the way seem to be packed with people - most have even set up big tents to get attention, and to have a place to smoke, since you're not supposed to smoke inside businesses in Kentucky. Should be interesting if we decide to go karaoking tomorrow night - there's usually only a dozen people when we start off. Special note: it rained all day, and I'm thrilled I didn't go to the track.

Saturday morning, 9:30am - It's Derby day. The only way I'd know it right now from the comfort of my own home is the constant stream of helicopters flying around overhead. I'm sure that's nothing more than traffic reporters. I do hope to see a blimp at some point today - blimps rock!

1:00pm - We head the opposite direction for lunch at Texas Roadhouse (which I always find funny that this chain started in Clarksville, IN). It's not very busy at all. The waitress asks us if we're heading to the track today, and we tell her that we live so close, we just wanted to get away from the sounds. She doesn't quite get it, and says, "They're doing a lot on the waterfront too!" I reply, "Good, can't hear that from the house!"

5:00pm - After watching some of our pre-recorded programs and relaxing on the couch, I decide to fire up the grill to cook some Italian sausage. With helicopters still circling our house, I keep telling myself "You're doing nothing wrong! They're not after you!" Reminder to refill my Thorazine...

6:15pm - We flip thru channels and happen to catch the actual race. Can't remember who won, because RedFaery and I were too saddened to think about anything other than the horse that broke it's ankles and had to be euthenized on the spot.

7:00pm - We decided to walk two blocks to Wendy's for a couple of small Frostys. As we passed thru the grocery store's parking lot on the way, all I see are traffic jams and trash. The temperature had dropped about 20 degrees, and the drunk partygoers were chilly. One couple stumbled by us wrapped in what looked like an "emergency blanket" - a sheet of tinfoil for those that weren't Scouts or military.
Wendy's was only moderately busy, with many people from the track. Mostly college age kids that probably yelled "WOOO!" a lot and lifted their tops at the track. They looked like hell. We got our Frostys to go.
As we were almost home, we spotted a driver that passed in front of us that shouldn't be behind the wheel (and I praise myself for having the foresight to move my car off the street and into the driveway). He had red splotchy skin, bulging eyes, and his head was reared all the way back to keep it upright. Despite how dangerous he was behind the wheel, we could do nothing but laugh at the sight!

9:00pm - RedFaery finally had enough strength back to try karaoke, so we walk down to the bar. As expected, it was busy. But it was also uncomfortably loud and rowdy - so maybe next week.

In summary, our first Derby Day wasn't too bad. Not much traffic actually walking by our house, so that's good. I'm sure the trash is still out there, so that's a strike against it. Sad that I didn't get to see a blimp. Maybe someday we'll actually go to the race.